Feb 27, 2006
In 2005 alone, oil companies cheated the U.S. government out of 700 million dollars in royalties for natural gas they extracted from federal lands. And the government as much as told them to do it. The Bush administration had ordered fewer audits of oil company books and fired some auditors who were trying to get the oil companies to pay what they owed.
But that 700 million lost dollars is only a small part of the problem. Because the biggest cheating is not the illegal cheating, but the legal kind.
According to the New York Times, the oil corporations can avoid paying as much as 9.5 billion dollars in oil and gas royalties over the next five years using just one of their tax loopholes. This loophole was approved by both Congress and the Clinton administration in 1996. And if an extension is approved through the courts, this gift could grow to 35 billion dollars.
Thirty-five billion dollars is about the same amount of money the Bush administration is now proposing to cut from Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years.
It’s not enough that the big oil companies rip us off at the pump and in our heating bills every day. They are stealing money from health care and other vital social programs – with the help of both parties!